posted on April 05, 2009 19:00
Formerly the guitarist with the brilliant and much-missed Irish rockers Ten Speed Racer, Pat Barrett - working under the moniker of The Hedge Schools - quietly re-emerged last year with the release of his rather excellent and quite underrated debut solo album ‘Never Leave Anywhere’. Ken Fallon recently caught up with the Dublin-born musician to see what the current state-of-play is…
‘Never Leave Anywhere’ is one of the more quietly impressive Irish albums I’ve heard in the last few years. Could you tell us a little about how it came to fruition?
Well, to be honest, even during the Ten Speed Racer days we were all writing and I’ve been writing for maybe ten years now, so the time seemed just right. Waiting for a free window in Joe’s (Chester, producer and former TSR bandmate) diary was also a key factor but I was really in the head-space on a personal level to sit down and start recording, so we did.
What made you decide to release your music under the name ‘The Hedge Schools’?
I just felt that putting it out under my own name would pigeonhole it with all the other singer-songwriters’ records and I just didn’t want that. No offence meant to anyone but if the singer-songwriters of this country were in one corner of a pub and bands of this country were in another corner, you’d more then likely find me standing at the bar. It’s given me the freedom also, from a live point of view, for it to be whatever I choose. It’s nice to have that freedom…
One of my favourite Irish bands of the last ten years were your old band Ten Speed Racer but it all came to a very sudden and premature end. Could you tell us about the circumstances that led to the split?
We just got tired - simple as. We’d made two bloody good albums and an EP and were always prepared to put the brakes on, so to speak.
What are the chances of a reunion?
None really. My two bros, Johnny and Dermot, who were in the band with me and Terri and Joe are both married and living abroad. Life goes on really and what would be the point? It’s not like we’d fill the O2 if we did reform. Ha!
How did you find the transition from being part of a band to working as a solo artist?
Certainly a lot more peaceful and a lot less stressful.
Joe Chester produced the album. How was it working with your old band-mate?
To set the record straight Joe Chester is a sonic genius .You just gotta look at what he’s done in the last five years really and he just gets better. I love the man and I love working with him and having him as a right-hand man, so to speak.
What does 2009 hold in store? Do you have any plans to play some more live gigs or begin album number two?
We’re hoping for festivals and some Whelans shows coming up with One Day International on 3rd April and also a support with Mundy in the same venue later in April some time. I will be cropping up doing solo supports during the year also but more about stuff like that on the ol’ Myspace page when it happens.
What’s your take on the state of the music industry at the moment, especially in Ireland? Music publications and record shops seem to be disappearing almost on a weekly basis these days.
Ah, to be honest it’s not just Ireland, it’s the whole industry as we know it basically needing to take a look at itself and re-invent itself. People don’t need record companies to make records anymore. They can do it at home and release them from home into the hemisphere. We will be at a loss of small record shops but I’m old–school - I still buy vinyl for God’s sake! What’s that about? Long live the independent record-shop where you can go and talk to passionate people about passion for the music.